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Implications for the legal profession

The centralisation implicit (and in many cases explicit) in proposed regulations will impact business and professional practice in other ways that will be quite unacceptable to powerful interest groups. In Germany, a proposed law that would have centralised all electronic notary services in TTPs came to the attention of the legal profession. They mounted a sharp protest at the prospective loss of notarisation income by all small to medium sized legal practices. One of their members (Alexander Roßnagel, Professor of Law at Kassel) suggested the principle (with which we agree) that trust structures in the electronic world should mirror those in existing professional or commercial practice.

In this context, I understand that the DTI's two month comment period has been too short for the legal professions in the UK to produce official responses. In fact, the document only addresses the needs of industry and appears to ignore the professions completely. This is a dangerously narrow view given that Britain earns an increasing proportion of its income from the export of professional services in one form or another. The department should have set out to obtain the views of doctors, lawyers, patent agents, insurance brokers, stockbrokers, accountants, chartered engineers of various kinds, and as many other affected parties as possible; it should also have allowed a long enough consultation period for considered responses to be obtained.

Ross Anderson
Tue Oct 21 11:00:05 BST 1997